By now you've likely read the regrettable news that Digital Domain has shuttered their Florida studio that was producing the company's first feature film, The Legend of Tembo. It's devastating news for employees and it will naturally be an economic loss to the locality and indeed the State of Florida, but today's events do highlight a couple of things that everyone should keep in mind.
Maintain an Online Presence and Keep it Updated
I can't emphasise this enough. In today's very liquid, very mobile job market, maintaining an online presence is essential. Things like an online portfolio or demo reel will pay dividends if your next job is hundreds of miles away.
A blog or otherwise online journal shows continued personal development and a desire to move your career forward. Bear in mind that a tumblr of your art or sketches isn't necessarily enough. Motivation is what employers look for and the more you exhibit, the better your chances will be.
Twitter and Facebook don't count in this context. While they are good at communication, they don't exactly convey any particular skill on your behalf.
And of course, keep everything updated on a regular basis. You can have the best portfolio/blog in the world but it it's a year out of date, that says as much to an employer as it needs to, and it isn't necessarily good news to their ears.
Maintain Your Contact List
Even more important than an updated online presence is an online real world presence. Contacts are what drive many industries and animation is no exception. Have a list of colleagues, co-workers, classmates, etc. and converse with them on a regular basis. Even a quick note to say hi is better than nothing. In deference to the above, twitter and facebook in addition to e-mails. phone calls and meetings work best in this regard.
Remember: It's not who you know, it's who know you. If your name is out there, the more people who know it, the greater your chance of you picking up another job is.
Be Prepared Financially
We live in a capitalistic society. Companies can go south for any reason at any time. The general rule is the larger they are, the harder they fall. Being prepared financially is an absolute must for anybody in the workforce. A good yardstick is at least 6 months salary squirreled away somewhere that can be easily accessed.
Some may wince at the idea of having to keep so much stockpiled, but the more you do, the greater your comfort zone will be in looking for another job. It also means that you won't be under the same pressure to accept the first offer and can hold out for a better one if you so choose Once you find it, build that savings pile back up for the next time, because you can be sure you will need it again at some point in your career and you'll be glad it's there when you do.